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CSBG Archive

I Can’t Cover What I Am – Joe Kubert’s “False Sense of Security” Covers

In this feature, I spotlight comic book covers that follow a specific theme. Here is an archive of all the cover themes we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today I will spotlight the late, great Joe Kubert’s propensity for covers depicting characters expressing a false sense of security.


Earlier tonight, when I showed 25 great Joe Kubert covers, I mentioned that there was a specific theme that Kubert used often during his career. I would call it a “false sense of security” cover. You know, a character on the cover says, “Don’t worry, we’re safe now” while unknown to the character (but visible to the viewer of the cover), danger lurks right around the corner.

Here are twenty instances of the cover from Kubert, in chronological order, starting in 1968 and ending in 1975…

After the mid-70s, Kubert rarely used the idea on covers (he still did on rare occasions, but nowhere nearly as often as he used to). In fact, on this 1978 cover, he even uses the idea in REVERSE, with the Nazis given a false sense of security.

One group of these covers that I held out of the first grouping are covers featuring the Losers. You see, the Losers were a group of characters who used to have their own individual features that they lost due to lack of popularity. So they were given their own book together and it really DID work. Anyhow, along with the “losers” theme, they had LOTS of false sense of security covers.

Here are seven from just the first two years (1970-1972) of the feature alone!!!

And here are nine from the next six years…

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the covers!


That second to last cover is sheer brilliance!!

Those grinning Nazis, always one step ahead of you

You beat me to it, Brian. I was just about to write a comment about this.

These covers, with the heros drawn beautifully walking toward the ‘camera’ and the bad guys lurking in the foreground are Kubert at his most Kubertiest.

Dammit, Joe! You were the best!

I’ve never been a war comic fan, but those covers really made me want to pick up more than a few of those titles.

Though really, that second to last one’s kind of silly. Who’d carry a mirror like that?

Cullen, the DC war comics are kind of a “you had to be there” experience. For kids like me who grew up reading them, they were life-changing. Enemy Ace rocked my world.

I don’t know if these comics would hit a current reader the way they hit me. I grew up reading Archie and Little Lulu and Lois and Lana and then when Enemy Ace and G.I. Combat showed up, my fragile little mind was blown.

Damn, those are some good covers.

Question: For those of us that have read very little classic Kubert, what are some cheap, in print collections that people recommend? I’ve read a fair amount of the latter day graphic novels, like Fax From Sarajevo, but I haven’t read any of the Silver Age Kubert/Kanigher stuff.

Here’s a Sgt Rock from March ’81. It’s one I have and I dig it. Another reversal with the Nazis having the false sense of security.


This pattern just shows how an awesome cover can just make you want to grab the book from the shelf and find out what’s going on!

Maybe after the mid-70’s, since the market shifted more to the DM, the “need” to have those MUST GET covers like that faded. Too bad.

Third Man – Just about any comic book store with a decent back issue bin should have 70s and 80s Kubert war comics (and others) at a decent price. Some of the 60s stuff is getting pricey though. And the Showcase volumes are fantastic. Sgt Rock, Enemy Ace, Unknown Soldier, War that Time Forgot all in black and white.

To me, the best part about these is how he plays with the concept so much, but so many of those covers are very different from one another. Different layouts, different emotions even. The white flag one (Sgt. Rock 232) actually pissed me off a bit, while the sideways tank one (G.I. Combat 139) was kind of funny even though it still had a sense of danger.

I second BA’s recommendation to pick up the Showcase Presents collections. Really great way to get several hundred pages of Joe Kubert goodness for under twenty bucks. I also found a number of the later issues of Star Spangled War Stories / The Unknown Soldier on Ebay for really low prices. Those are worth getting for the Kubert covers alone, but the interior artwork by Gerry Talaoc and Dick Ayers was none too shabby, either!

Glory dive and hot corner?

[…] Conin has a lovely Kubert cover gallery of his own over at Comic Book Resources, as well as a smart and interesting follow-up post that talks about a particular trope Kubert used in his covers time and again. Well worth […]

Two of my least favorite sexual maneuvers.

Some really great work. Speech bubbles were so prevalent back then, I’d like to read something about their falling out of favor. Seems like such an odd thing to all but disappear.

Fantastic post Brian! These covers clearly illustrate just how focused Joe was on the storytelling aspect. These covers draw you in with intrigue, and you have to pick up the comic to find out what happened! Again, like so much of his work, its the storytelling aspect that sets Joe apart from so many others…something that the Jim Lee’s of this world could certainly learn from. Great job!

Little known historical fact that these covers help bring to light: peripheral visions wasn’t invented till the 1960s.

Which was the classic war comic cover featured in in-house DC ads that featured a closeup in the lower foreground of a US soldier playing dead in the desert while the nazi convoy passed in the background saying “yah, zey are all dead!” and a big cobra in the extreme foreground about to bite the sweating yank in the face? Was that a Sgt. Rock cover? Seems very in-line with those featured here.

@ Ganky – it’s OUR FIGHTING FORCES #150 featuring the Losers. I’m lookin’ at it right now. The interior art is by John Severin.

R.I.P. Joe. You shall be missed.

R I P, Joe. When I was ten I inhaled your comics. You caught the sparkle in people’s relationships. I’m happy that you opened a sketch school and that it lured others. Thanks Brian for the news of his sons, I hadn’t known they drew too. Vale

Funny, I never read the war comics, yet I remember this style of cover very clearly being on the comic book rack when I was reading Superman at the grocery store while mom shopped. The covers obviously made quite an impression.

That was really enjoyable looking at Kubert’s covers. Far before my time so I learned something. Even though they were all like “Soon as we (insert action here)”, or “They can’t reach us here,” or “There’s nobody in sight”, and that frickin tank got into more trouble than a little bit. But these covers actually had a story and weren’t just splash pages. Pure Awesomeness.

Thanks Sgt. Rawk! I just went over to the Grand Comics Database for a nostalgic look at that ole cover for Our Fighting Forces #150, and was amusingly floored when I clicked back and forth a few issues from #150. Pretty much ALL the covers were of this Kubert hidden danger type back to 145, and forward to 152 where Kirby takes over. They are all great covers (especially the snake one) but I didn’t expect them all to use the same type of gag. Zose verdammt Amerikaners!

Joe Kubert was much more than just a great artist, he was an absolute icon of the comics genre and one whose place in its history is firmly assured. For a man to carry on producing work of such amazingly good quality until well into his eighties, was simply astounding. Some of his more recent works such as ‘Fax from Sarajevo’ , ‘Yossel’ etc., no longer bound by ‘sixties censorship and clearly intended for a more adult audience, had a far harsher edge to them and were also a testament to Joe’s considerable skills as a writer. However, I think Joe will always be best remembered for the sheer volume of phenomenal artwork which he produced, especially for DC’S War titles, throughout half a century! Sgt.Rock undoubtedly ranks as one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time, thanks mainly to Joe’s awesome characterisation of him and it’s a fitting tribute to Joe that these gems of artistic history continue to attract such growing and well deserved acclaim.

They just MAKE you want to buy them and they’re not my favorite genre!

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